Nasal Rinsing / Neti Pot
If you have allergies, or tendancies for sinus infections like me, you might find some notable relief with rinsing out your nasal passages, sinus connective tissues, turbinates, etc with a saline solution. This practice has been done for countless years, and while perhaps a bit yucky to think about, is really quite simple and cleansing once you are used to it. Almost enjoyable even.
For starters, many people think this is "sinus rinsing" and while it might seem true, only your nasal passages are actually getting rinsed out. We are not washing out sinus infections!! (oh how I wished sometimes it would be that easy!) However what we are doing with nasal irrigation is making sure the nasal passages are clean, removing inflammation causing agents/pathogens, and improving drainage from the sinus cavities which attach to the upper nasal cavities - so the body can rid itself of whatever is in the sinuses. Its not a miracle cure, but with regular irrigation, you'll likely feel notably better - barring any major anatomic problems or really recalcitrant infections.
Its very easy, you need a few basic things. For starters:
- A standard 500ml (2cup) glass / Pyrex measuring cup (not plastic)
- A Teaspoon
- Pure sea salt without any preservatives, caking agents, or iodine. Found easily at Whole Foods or any good grocer.
- SinusCleanse squeeze bottle - or similar. There are several companies that makes these now and most pharmacies have something similar. A classic Neti Pot can work too, but the squeeze bottle style seems less messy and a bit more effective since you get a bit more rinsing "power".
- Baking Soda (optional)
- Xylitol powder - easily obtained at any vitamin store, or Whole Foods. I like Jarrow, but any reputable brand will work. (optional)
First we start off with the water. Fill the measuring cup full of water and microwave for 5 minutes or until its at a rolling boil for a few minutes. Be careful when removing the water from the microwave since quite obviously it can be very hot and can violently micro boil when disturbed. I usually open the door, but leave the steaming hot measuring cup in the microwave for about 5 additional minutes just to be on the safe side. After that, wait about an hour for the water to cool off to a lightly warm temperature.
At this point, add the following to the 2 cups of water:
- 1 heaping teaspoon of sea salt (adjust as necessary - should never cause a burning sensation)
- Pinch of Baking Soda (optional, helps buffer the hypertonic saline solution and eliminate any discomfort if a stronger saline solution works better!)
- 3 teaspoons of Xylitol, and stir until completely dissolved (optional, but helpful in rinsing out baddies)
The liquid at this point should be only very lightly cloudy due to the Xylitol if you chose to use it. Make sure its only gently warm, and now its time to start the rinse. Fill a full squeeze bottle and start with whichever nostril is the most congested. Place the tip gently into the nostril, and start squeezing gently. Aim the water a bit away from the center of your nose to protect your septum (the delicate tissue between the two sides of your nose). As the water starts to flow out your other nostril, you can start to increase the pressure of your squeezing until the bottle is empty. Refill, and repeat with your other nostril.
When you have emptied the full measuring cup of water - its time to make sure the nose is all drained out. It varies from person to person exactly what works - but this step is important. Here is a routine that works pretty well for me:
- Bend forward from the waist pointing your nose downwards toward the floor - capturing any water in a tissue. Turn your head right and left. Gently breath in and out thru the nose 10 or so times (into a tissue)
- Standing up straight, look up at the ceiling. Gently breath in and out thru the nose 10 or so times. You should feel some drainage down your throat.
- Grab another tissue and very gently blow any remnant liquid out. Be gentle so you don't push water into your eustachian tubes / ears. This hurts, so easy goes it!
- Start some short rapid breaths thru the nose to dry it out (say 10 or so)
You might need to carry a tissue for a bit after just in case some "stealth" water decides to run out. Whee, fun right? Once you do this a bit you'll know what routine to use to get you all drained out properly. That's all there is to it.
Sure it does sound a bit complicated at first, but its really quite easy - you'll have it down in no time! And it really does work!
If you have questions or comments I'd love to hear from you! E-mail is in the sidebar on the left, upwards.